Taxpayers to Assume Janklow's Liability in Crash that Killed Motorcyclist Randy Scott

A federal attorney has decided that Janklow was acting as a congressman when he killed Randy Scott and that the U.S. government should be the defendant in the civil suit. By _ Art Friedman.

A ruling by a federal prosecutor that Bill Janklow was "on duty" as South Dakota's congressman when he ran a stop sign and killed motorcyclist Randy Scott last August means that the United States government and its taxpayers and not Janklow himself will be liable for any civil verdict in the wrongful-death suit filed by Scott's family.

The decision comes as an additional blow to those outraged by Janklow's apparent arrogance and the minimal criminal sentence he was handed -- 100 days in jail. It seemed that Janklow could at least suffer monetary damages for his actions, but if this decision is upheld, it means that Janklow won't even have to pay legal fees. The Scott family also can't ask for punitive damages.

The federal prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Tom Heffelfinger, has filed papers asking that the case be moved from state to federal court and that the federal government replace Janklow as the defendant. The attorney for the Scott family has said he will try to keep the case in state court and have Janklow remain a defendant.

Of course, the news has further irritated taxpayers. The county where he was tried has already spent $62,000 on the case. Few believe they should pay for a congressman's gross negligence.

Thwe one bit of good news is that Janklow's request to be released from jail during an appeal of his sentence was denied by the South Dakota Supreme Court.

The news stories below offer additional details.

For more breaking motorcycle news, visit the home page of

If you have questions or comments about this article, email _Motorcycle Cruiser's web editor at _ _or at _

Janklow in 2002